We (Marie & Brian) are a Natural Shetland born and bred couple, our experience/knowledge of the sea, nature and the local heritage around us is extensive and - to our passengers' delight - highly entertaining. Our fun, personal and engaging style appeals to all ages and varying interests.
Brian has been actively involved with multi award-winning tour company Seabirds-and-Seals, since it started up in 1992 by naturalist Dr Jonathan Wills. In 2017 we bought the business from Jonathan when he was still trading as Seabirds-and-Seals, we have kept on the same relief crew members with one new addition (Laurie) and continued the good work that Jonathan had been doing for years.
A new series of TripAdvisor and Google reviews, started after our very busy first season in 2018, these were extremely positive and show how popular this fascinating nature tour still is, after all these years! After just one full season we were awarded the Scottish Tourist Board’s 4-Star distinction and TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. Our tours consistently generate great reviews, leading to TripAdvisor’s Travellers' Choice award in 2020 and again in 2021. In 2021 we were delighted to receive another award for our trophy cabinet 'SME Scottish Enterpise Awards - Best Wildlife Boat Tour Company'. We are both proud to be awarded the best boat tour company covering the Northern Isles and of course all our many other accolades.
We both have extensive seafaring experience. We sailed our own yacht from Shetland to the Mediterranean Sea, spending time in various ports for over two years. This was a truly magnificent experience but we are glad to be home, showcasing what Shetland has to offer to our many visitors and locals.
Brian also has extensive experience as a marine engineer, running his own successful business for many years. He has always taken pride in his work and was in high demand amongst local boat owners. He continues taking pride in his new business, Seabirds-and-Seals, and is delighted to have his wife Marie on-board.
In addition to his MCA Workboat License, which he has had for many many years, Brian also has all the other necessary licenses required to operate. Brian is a most experienced Shetland skipper operating around Noss. His wealth of knowledge about local waters, which can only be gained through a lifetime's experience, makes him a very safe and most dependable tour skipper. With his qualifications, experience and masterful boatmanship, Brian is in perfect place at the helm. We both have our Basic Sea Survival and First Aid at Sea qualifications, so you’re guaranteed the best, safest and most comfortable trip possible in any given sea conditions.
Along with guiding/crew duties throughout the very busy season, Marie is also responsible for the admin side of things. A natural and enthusiastic organizer, she keeps the business running smoothly. She takes all bookings & enquires and keeps social media listings updated. Previously, Marie worked as a School Librarian – she’s an avid reader and is always looking to add more information to the tour, making it fun, varied and interesting for all ages. She has also worked as a Learning Support Worker and Social Care Worker in various settings for diverse clients and her people skills certainly come to the fore on-board Seabird. Being a tour guide is simply the best job she’s ever had: her enthusiasm, humour and wide-ranging knowledge – from wildlife and geology to local and natural history and landmarks – are a joy on every tour.
We make a fabulous team: we are both passionate about our business; we're always up for fun; and are friendly and welcoming to all our passengers. Seabirds-and-Seals’ continuing success, reflected in our fantastic TripAdvisor & Google Reviews, is no surprise: complementing each other’s experience, skills and talents, we provide a highly informative, fun and fascinating tour, from start to finish showing you the best of Shetland.
We are very excited about the future - next year (2022) along with founder of 'Seabirds-and-Seals' Jonathan Wills and many others - we all look forward to celebrating 30 years of the business as it has had 30 continuous years of trading under the name 'Seabirds-and-Seals'. We look forward to welcoming many passengers onboard and showcasing all Shetland has to offer on our extremely spacious & comfortable Catamaran.
Jonathan has been birdwatching in Shetland since childhood holidays. Jonathan started up award-winning business Seabirds-and-Seals in 1992 and sold the business to Marie & Brian Leask in 2017 when he was still trading as Seabirds-and-Seals. He fully retired in 2018, confident of many more years of Seabirds-and-Seals' success with Marie & Brian.
Jonathan continues to be supportive, occasionally making a trip to Noss as a guide onboard Seabird. In 1970, he was the first warden of Noss National Nature Reserve. He’s a former boatman to the Muckle Flugga Lighthouse and wrote his Ph.D. on the historical geography of Shetland. He has served for many years as a local councillor. He’s written several books, including children’s books. His most recent book, Seabirds-and-Seals, is well worth a read and copies available to purchase onboard Seabird, as well as our upcoming 'online shop'.
Laurie Goodlad sometimes joins us on our tours to work as crew/guide. Laurie is a writer and accredited green badge tour guide who has a passion for Shetland's history, wildlife and culture. Born and brought up in Shetland, she has a great knowledge of the people, place and wildlife that make Shetland such a memorable place to visit. Laurie also writes a lively blog (www.shetlandwithlaurie.com) and hosts a podcast dedicated to Shetland. As the daughter of a fisherman, she knows her way around a boat and doesn't turn green at the gills on a course day!
Part-time guide and deckhand Kaylee Stevenson is from Lerwick. She is a local Coastguard officer and a qualified Royal Yachting Association instructor with lots of experience in looking after passengers. She worked on yacht flotillas in Greece before returning to Shetland to put her powerboat certificate and people skills to good use on Seabird.
Wildlife tour leader, writer and photographer Jon Dunn sometimes joins us on our tours to work as crew and wildlife guide. Author of the "Britain's Sea Mammals" field guide, he's passionate about birds as well as blubbery mammals, and can't get enough of sharing them with visitors to Shetland.
With our experienced Captain, Brian, and knowledgeable naturalist Marie, enjoyed breathtaking views of the Noss cliffs, seabird colonies, the coastline, and seals with the bonus of learning some local history and snagging some very special underwater views. On a cool and windy day on the water, the coffee/tea and biscuits served were a nice touch as well. Can't imagine a better way to see the area and wildlife - or better folks to guide us. The boat was comfortable and provided some protection from the elements as well!!
So I was visiting my friends in Lerwick and I had a few hours to spend so inspotted the seabird and seals boat, I approached Brian (owner) and asked if there was room for 1 more and there was. I was told to be at the pier for 2pm, I was and we set sail around 2.15pm, we had a safety brief from Marie and it was very clear but also relaxed. First stop was out to a shipwreck where they anchored and put down an underwater camera so we could see the sea life and the wreck, it was really amazing and you could all see clearly on the two television screens. We then proceeded to see the seals then out towards Noss, I don't want to spoil the trip for anyone but it was fantastic and the best £45 I have spent in a while, included were tea & biscuits as well, we were away from 3 and half hours, great company, great boat and overall fantastic experience, well done to you both.
We were so, so lucky...We started slowly with a fascinating camera exploring the sea life around an old wreck. Then we got serious, out into open water and the spectacularly rugged coasts of the islands of Bressay and Noss...The cliffs of Noss were one of the greatest natural sights I've ever experienced. With the sea hammering us and the captain keeping us steady maybe four feet from the rocks, we were at the base of 592-feet-high cliffs, with 25,000 birds above us, sitting/nesting on every speck of ledge, many diving beak-first at high speed to spear fish, the noise of the birds overwhelming. At one point I wondered what would happen if one bird noticed us and mused, "Fancy a change from fish today?" We were probably there half an hour, and it's a half hour that will live in our memories a long time. Lots still to see after that, including backing up into a cavern in a cliff, and anchoring in a cove for tea, coffee, and biscuits. What an incredible tour!
This tour was arranged by our cruise ship and it's a must do for anyone visiting Lerwick in Shetland Islands. We saw such beautiful birds and the two owners were so knowledgeable and friendly. Also rock formations and caves were beautiful. Loved the gingerbread cookies and coffee. Also the views from underwater camera were great!
A belated review from a visit to Shetland in May this year - we had an amazing trip with Brian and Marie round the cliffs of Noss and Bressay. They were both extremely knowledgeable and friendly, seemed to know everything about the wildlife we encountered on the tour, plenty of new things to discover even for someone who grew up in Shetland. we saw grey seals, gannets, great skuas and shags, we couldn't believe how many birds were nesting around the cliffs! The weather was nice enough for Brian to bring the boat right into the Orkneyman's Cave, as well as sending down the ROV to a small wreck at the North mooth of the harbour. would definitely consider taking the trip again, and recommend to both visitors and islanders alike.